Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday was the Rock 'N 'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon - which was also the third and final race of our #Dirt2Strip journey.

Hopefully you've read my recaps for the first two races {Saturday morning's Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and Saturday evening's Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas 5K}, but if not, you totally should... and I'm not just saying that... or maybe I am ;)

In the morning we were running the Hollywood Hills and in the evening we were running (off the) Vegas Strip

When I left off in the last post we were refueling Saturday night with #AllTheFood. After that it was time to head back to our hotel rooms and hit the hay since it had been quite the full day. Now, I don't know if you know this or not, but I am currently training for my first official ultra marathon (the hubby and I did the Grand Canyon {Rim2Rim2Rim} which was about 50 miles, but it was self-supported and unofficial). With that said, my training plan calls for quite a few miles to get me and my legs ready to tackle this next challenge. Technically I was supposed to have 22 miles on Saturday, so seeing as I only got in about 15 I decided I'd hit the strip and get in an extra 7 when I woke up Sunday morning.

Maybe next time I'll tuck in my shirt so my tummy isn't out in all its glory ;) 

The weather was a bit on the chilly side and the winds were whipping around, but it was awesome to have the strip almost to myself. (Let's be real, Vegas never sleeps, so folks were still stumbling around at 6:30am "continuing to rage".)

Some of the character stops I made while out on my run

After finishing my run I decided I should probably get off my feet for a while so I made my way back to my room to shower, refuel, do a little work and watch some football. {During this time the guys went to the lululemon outlet store, but since those clothes are a little too rich for my blood I opted out.} Eventually it was time to get dressed and ready for the race.

This #FlatCarlee was all about the reflective gear (so of course I had to shoot one picture without a flash and one with a flash)!
My flat runner included: neon pink and black PRO Compression socks, black Handful bra, Sparkle Athletic reflective chevron skirt,
2017 Los Angeles Marathon jacket (Jade Jacket made by Skechers Performance), Brooks Sherpa reflective hat, pink and black QALO
silicone wedding bands
, pink and black Momentum Jewelry wraps, elite Road ID, my Garmin Forerunner 935 and Brooks Ghost 11.

Just like before the 5K, the #WeRunSocial crew had a meet-up before the races on Sunday at the Bellagio fountains.

Source: @werunsocial's Instagram feed

It was awesome to see everyone. Although having the fountains going off in the background of our shot was a great idea in theory, it was a little difficult to execute because the sun was behind us and the sidewalk is only so big (especially because all the tourists are also trying to stop and enjoy the water show), but we did our best to make it work.

All of the crew that was there at the time of the photo (people came and went when it was convenient for them)

The #RockNBlog crew who were at the meet-up

The #Dirt2Strip crew! 

Since all of the official information said that runners were required to go to the Start Line Village prior to the event (and enter the corrals via the village), once it got close to race time, the meet-up started to disperse and everyone made their way to the pre-race festival. Capital Cities was the headliner and were already onstage by the time we got there.

As you can see, it wasn't a hip-happenin' concert...

I guess this is as good of a spot as any to see if anyone would like to place a wager (it's Vegas, baby)... Race one of the weekend was a short course and race two was... uh... lameSo what do you wanna bet that race three will be a success?!


I will say, when we got to the Start Line Village I was impressed by the number of port-o-potties. There were tons and we were able to walk up with zero line {spoiler alert: this was NOT the case for the rest of the race, but more on that later}.

We had a decent size crew in the blue wave (the number of runners is very large for RnRLV, so they split them into three waves {blue, green and yellow}, with 12-14 corrals within each wave) so we tried to set a game plan. Last year we had entered the starting area too close to the start of the race and really had to work to get up to the proper corral (not to mention try to stay together). This year we decided to try to enter the staging area as soon as the corrals opened - which, for the blue wave, was 3:40pm for a 4:30pm start time. We figured that because the official info all stated runners had to go to the village and could only enter the corrals when their wave was called that it would be regulated... Let's just say it wasn't. Once they opened the gate for us to start walking to the start line you could tell it was a cluster. There were no barricades along the road to keep others out of the huge mass walking to the start (this included folks from other waves, spectators and just drunkards who got stuck in the shuffle). Literally we were all just meandering down the street and whoever wanted would jump in. Now, don't get me wrong, RnRLV is never about a time for me (this was my fourth time running the race {2015, 2016, 2017}), so I wasn't getting bent out of shape because other folks were "sneaking" into the wrong corral (although no sneaking was required, there was no security, nothing preventing anyone from from coming or going, no one telling anyone where they should or shouldn't go, etc), but I was disappointed by the lack of security, the lack of a plan, the lack of containment, the lack of thought that seemed to have gone into the start. Unless you needed to drop stuff at gear check or you were really into the concert, there was zero reason to arrive early and go to the Start Line Village. Had we known, we could have hung out with the crew longer, saved some steps and just bee-lined it straight to the start closer to race time. We all hoped this wasn't a preview of things to come...

Last year, a few weeks prior to the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas event, there was a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Due to this, RnR moved the start line, changed security measures, adjusted the pre-race entertainment, etc. I'd say that because of this many runners are extra aware of security at this event... but it didn't seem as though Rock 'N' Roll felt the same way. In fact, I don't remember going through much security for any of the events over the weekend. (During the 5K they were checking bags, but that's the extent of the security I remember.) When we were waiting at the starting line a few of us mentioned how worrisome some of the issues were (the lack of security to get to the corrals, then when we got to the corrals we were fenced in with 8-10 foot fences, meaning if something were to happen we were stuck, plus folks noticed an open window at one of the nearby hotels, etc). In the world we live in today, unfortunately these are things we have to think about, especially with what occurred down the street so fresh in everyone's memories.

The fire may have been a better touch if it was dark out...

But, now, let's get back to the race itself. After waiting for what seemed like FOR-EV-ER in the corrals (maybe they thought the walk would take 50 minutes?), it was time to go. We located satellites on our Garmins, assigned everyone a number (so we could count off and make sure we didn't lose anyone along the way) and got down to business... And by business I mean the exact opposite of business... this race is always a 13.1 mile PARTY!

While waiting for the race to start we numbered off... I was #2!

The first mile or two is pretty boring and mellow. Since the blue wave started at 4:30pm it was still light out so the strip isn't lit up in all of its glory yet (and you are just running along the airport and a few smaller hotels). But then we get to our first stop - the "Welcome To Vegas" sign. And here's where our good friend Chris Heuisler was. Rock 'N' Roll had a four hour Facebook live stream going on and Chris was there getting some footage. Of course the crew rolled up and chatted for a bit. (If you saw it, you probably noticed I thought it'd be 'funny' to act like I was bored while everyone else was freaking the freak out {I don't know why I thought it was a good idea... I've since apologized to Chris twice for "ruining" the interview}.)

[And in case you didn't see it, you can watch it now ;) Around the 32:45 mark is where the crew rolls up and takes over.]

Well, after we left Chris, it was time to snap some pictures at the sign... I mean, it is one of the reasons why you run Vegas, right?! (And, as Chris mentioned in the interview, I ran as 'the sign' during the 2016 RnRLV 5K - HA!)

This picture is a MUST if you are running RnRLasVegas!

And then one of just me ;)

Then more friends caught us before we left so we snapped another shot!

And one final selfie before heading out ;)

Eventually we decided it was probably time to start running again... so we merged back into the race and plotted along.

Like I said, this race is pretty much a party from start to finish. I don't know if it feels like that because so many of the people in town are wasted and go crazy for the runners or if it's just that fun ;) Las Vegas only closes down the strip twice a year (once for New Years Eve and once for this race), so it's pretty special to be able to run it without cars or having to dodge the intoxicated crazies on the sidewalks. The lights are all on, the music is pumping and the party vibes are strong!

Was trying for a selfie and someone jumped in... Then I figured I'd get just the cool neon signs.

Look at all that reflective gear!

Some of the sights along the course (although either I am lit or the background is, so it was hard to capture)

I've gotta give props where props are due and say that I appreciate the update that they made in the course this year. We did less running "off the strip" (in years past, you did some neighborhood running to make up some mileage) and it definitely kept the morale up. I'd say we probably could have had the corrals much closer to the Start Line Village and had even less "off the strip" (boring, dark, cold) running, but it was a move in the right direction. #OneStepAtATime


But with the positive comes a negative... The bathroom situation. Now, since this is an evening race, not everyone is familiar with how to fuel and hydrate (it is much easier to race in the morning, at least in my opinion, because you don't have a full day's worth of food and beverages in your gut). Although we used the bathroom at the Start Line Village, by Mile 3 a few of us already had to go. We decided that we would keep our eyes peeled and take a group pit-stop the next time we came across a bank of potties. Well, let's just say that didn't happen for almost SIX MILES! The official information about the race mentioned there will be portable bathrooms at each of the aid stations (but that it was "subject to change") but whenever we came across a port-o-potty which were far and few between (like maybe 6 or 8 total between the start of the race and Mile 9) it was a SINGLE one and the line was at least 20 runners long (legit - when we stopped later in the race for 'adult beverages' I counted and there were 21 people in one of the lines I saw). Around the point we were turning around and heading back to the finish we saw quite a few runners taking a detour down a side street and a bunch of us crossed our fingers and said "BATHROOMS!". When we veered down the street there was actually a truck unloading port-o-potties... I have no idea if this was something that slipped through the cracks or where the ball was dropped, but it was bad. Maybe they were ALL at the Start Line Village... (If you remember my Ventura Marathon recap, I had stomach issues, so bathrooms are definitely in the forefront of my mind.) Had we not found these recently delivered bathrooms we would've exited the course and gone into a casino or restaurant nearby to use their potty.

Literally unloading port-o-potties around Mile 9 when we showed up...

Despite the bathroom dilemma, we still had a great time (but when you roll with the friends I have, it's hard not to!). As per tradition, around Mile 12 we stopped into one of the establishments along the course to hydrate with adult beverages... Because "when in Vegas", right?! I am not a beer drinker (I have never tasted pee, but if I were to try it, I am sure it would taste the same as beer...), so when Brian suggested some of us do Fireball shots I was ALL IN! (Beer and wine aren't my jam, so if I am going to drink {which doesn't happen too often} I go the hard liquor route.)

The only four "brave souls" who wanted shots during a half marathon ;)

The bartender was not stingy with these pours!

The rest of the crew grabbed their Coronas (which they attempted to save for the finish line, but most folks ended up drinking the contents before we got there ;)) and we made our way to the finish. Although, we didn't want the fun to end!

I don't drink beer so I made the perfect photographer ;) 

We ended up finishing in just under 3 hours and keeping most of the group together - I'd consider that a success! Vegas is always about the PARTY PACE! And when we crossed the finish line, guess who was there... Chris! Brian and I stopped to chat with him for a few minutes and when we snapped a quick pic he returned the favor of "being bored/ unimpressed".

Always good seeing this guy! 

The finisher chute is always crazy long in Vegas, but eventually (after picking up all of our medals and post-race snacks {like pretzels, bananas, chewy bars, Pringles, water, Gatorade, etc) we were able to exit to the street.

The bling bling! (I thought it was cool that it could sit flat and that the
cards move and fold into a single card.)

Finisher shot (with and without a flash so you could see my reflective gear in action)

We call Vegas pace our PARTY PACE! 

Some of us had discussed going to get pizza after the race and it was exactly what the doctor ordered! (Again, having to figure out fueling {when and how much to eat before a night race} is tricky and I wouldn't say I nailed it because I was hungry by Mile 6, so pizza was sounding scrum-didily-umptious at that point.) The white pizza was AMAZEBALLS!

Where'd we go? Shhhh... it's a secret ;)

Eventually it was time to call it a night and go our separate ways. Vegas is always a whirlwind (especially when you mix it in with a self-imposed challenge like #Dirt2Strip), but no one ever seems to want it to end. #UntilNextTime

The last picture I snapped before boarding my 6:30am flight Monday morning

If you want to party in Vegas next year, there is a $99 pre-sale price* available until the end of the week (to put into context, when we grabbed our bibs from the Expo on Saturday they were selling half and full registrations still and the cost was close to $300... prices only go up if you wait to sign up!).  *You can register for the 5K, Half or Full for $99 (although, if you read my recap from yesterday, I'd suggest saving your 5K registration fee and going to a show with the extra cash).

Do you enjoy going to Las Vegas?

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